Spring is here and typically it’s the time when we see many clients start planning and beginning various home renovations. While I often say, “the details are in the planning, and if you fail to plan, you plan to fail!” — nothing can really prepare you for the actual event of the renovation. But once this hardest part is over, your new space will bring you loads of joy!
Here are a few quick tips to help you through the process:
1.Plan, plan and then plan some more. Consider what needs changing and what should stay. Draw out every detail as changing a drawing is the cheapest way to redo anything. It’s a smart idea to either hire someone to help pull your ideas together; but if you choose to work alone, use graph paper and draw the room out. Then draw in all the elements in the same scale to be sure everything fits. Don’t forget to leave space for pathways as well.
2.Create a budget that is realistic. Once you have decided what you are going to do, determine what you have to spend. Be very careful when you shop. If it isn’t in the budget then leave those items as something for another renovation with another budget. If you go over budget the renovation that is supposed to make your life better will only cause stress. Once you determine exactly what product you’re going to use, the contractor’s quote can be precise, as they know exactly what needs to be installed.
3.Check out your contractor. When you are looking at general contractors, be sure that you get several references and call them. Ask about the final product as well as the process. Make sure they have done the kind of project you’re proposing — basements and kitchens are very different. Get a written quote that spells out exactly what you have planned and using the materials you’ve budgeted. When you make changes along the way, ask about price and write that down together. It’s important to get the quote in writing, even if you have to write it up yourself and you both sign off.
4.Reserve fifteen percent of the budget for the “oh crap” list. Those are the things that simply can’t be planned for. Sometimes something behind the walls will have to be repaired or replaced so that you can go forward with your plan. It is impossible to know what those things are until the job is underway and when you find out that the sub floor has to be replaced, you’ll say, “oh crap!” Having some reserve budget will allow you to pay for the materials and labour for those unexpected items.
5.Prepare for some mess! No matter how often we tell our clients that the process is going to be messy they always seem to be surprised. I promise you, it will be dusty all through the house. It is important to pack up or cover any electronics that can be damaged. Wrap those precious things in plastic or take them out of the house if you can — you will be happier when the job is done. TIP: Also plug the air vents in the spaces you are working on to avoid having your furnace distribute the dust to the rest of the house; you can just use newspaper or rags.
If you can afford to hire an industrial cleaner for the end of the project it will save you the ‘big’ job of cleaning yourself.
If you are going to live in your house while you renovate then you have to plan for a slightly frustrating, inconvenient time — but only for a short period. Keep your eye on the destination and keep reminding yourself that it will all be over soon. Make a deal with your spouse before the work starts: no serious relationship discussions during the reno!
When the dust settles, you will be happy you followed these steps. If you can, get help. If you think a professional is expensive, wait until you hire an amateur!